The older I get, the less it feels like Christmas during this time of year. Why is that? I think this is true for a few reasons. Probably the main reason being that I'm not in school. School often has constant daily reminders of every single holiday (and their accompanying holiday break schedule). Another reason being perhaps is that instead of expecting a bunch of presents, we have to now think about BUYING a bunch of presents. Whatever the case may be, it's less and less of a big deal. In today's era, there has also been an "awakening" of sorts with a lot of typical viewpoints and traditions. Christmas was just something we all went along with back in our adolescent age, but now we are exposed to alternative or deeper meanings associated with pagan holidays. All of that being said, this season brings out different things in different people. Even I have had a back and forth with it all but at the end of the day, I can't be too mad at those who just want to spread cheer and love.
I admit, growing up in a family with a bunch of kids and not a lot of money, Christmas was always quite a surprise. Never knew if we'd get actual presents or a lecture on how Christmas wasn't really about the presents. Even still to this day, when I hear the word Christmas, I immediately think of gifts. That's terrible! Moving to New York, however, my thoughts shifted a bit from gifts to family (since I don't have a single family member out here). I got really lonely around this time of year since I can't afford to hop on a plane to Detroit every 2 seconds (and who wants to go from cold weather to freezing anyway... why couldn't I have been from Hawaii??). My first few holidays out east were pretty darn depressing if I do say so myself. I think the second year I worked a double shift and had Subway for dinner by myself. And I hate Subway. The next couple of years got a bit better as I started to make friends with others who had no family in NYC. I do really like that aspect.
These days, I've been making the transition from scrooge to a mild version of cheery. I try not to think of myself so much, and shift my focus more towards others and how I can bring happiness during a sad time of year for many. Last year, me and T didn't know what to get each other, so we both went to the bank, got out $100 in singles, and walked all the way from Grand Central to Union Square giving money or buying food for every person we saw on the streets. Nope, I'm not rich, but I figured it was good to help those the most in need instead of buying a bunch of things for people already doing well. Doing that was so much more fulfilling than any other thing I had previously ever experienced during a holiday season. I've also always wanted to get involved in a soup kitchen, but surprisingly, those freakin things are hard to find and even harder to volunteer for! (Plus there's the fact that I don't really like to wake up that early, but that's neither here nor there. Giving has no schedule.)
I know that some people may have their own personal qualms about Christmas as an international market ploy of the consumers of the world, and yes, those qualms are totally warranted. Every "holiday" seems to be geared towards our pockets. We undoubtedly live in a sales driven society with supply and demand as our backbone. Even Hannukah and Kwanzaa aren't spared from cards, decorations, and presents in every store (maybe not so much, but I've definitely seen some stuff). Christmas just so happens to be the one that my family picked to celebrate. At the very core of every celebration, however, is something much deeper that often goes overlooked. Love. That's what it's really all about folks. Just giving a little bit of love to another. All the other fluff is just a fun play on the traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
It's very easy to get caught up in the politics of the season. I am too sometimes! (Especially with holiday parties. I love to crash them all and get drunk on the company dime.) I have absolutely no problem with anyone who is super into the Christmas spirit. If that's what makes you feel good, by all means, who is anyone to take that away. Even I am a huge fan of year-round Christmas lights. Ties the whole room together I think! If you find yourself being bothered by all the glitz and glam (even by the sound of cheery upbeat festive music... I know that may be quite a few of you), just take a moment and realize that it's bringing joy to someone who may really need a mood lifter in this cold cruel world. Try to focus on giving a little more than getting. Remember that your family could be anywhere and anyone...we are ALL family at the end of the day.
P.s. Last year I really did keep my Christmas tree up until June. My roommate had to ask me if she could take it down!
P.p.s. It is easy to slip into a "woe is me" version of yourself during this time of year. I've done it plenty of times. But maybe think about all of the seasonal limited edition foods you get to eat!
P.p.p.s. I do remember vaguely celebrating Kwanzaa as a very young kid in elementary, but never again after that. Not sure why exactly. My favorite principle/day was Kujichagulia. What a fun word to say!